Terrain Tools

Tutorial 2 in the Twilight Render V2 Specials Series

One of tools most obviously missing from the SketchUp toolset is the ability to edit terrains.  A geo-Location snapshot is great, but if you are excavating for a site development, the locked, un-editable terrain doesn't help you very well along the way.  On the other hand, if you want to create your own landscape to showcase your design, there aren't a lot of tools available.  Sure, there is the 'Sandbox' tools but they are very CPU intensive (so if you don't have a highend computer, forget it) and they are somewhat...lacking.  So to meet that need, we are bringing you the Terrain Tools AddOn for Twilight Render V2 Pro.

 

With the Terrain Tools AddOn, you can create custom terrains, edit geo-Location Snapshots, and create custom terrain textures!

education

 The Terrain Tools AddOn is designed around easy-to-use tools that make up two categories, Geometry and Texture.  With the Geometry tools you can create a custom landscape or edit an existing landscape.  Using the Texture tools, you generate a custom texture that matches the details of your terrain, height and slope, to create a realistic representation.  Please note, as with all AddOns, a Twilight Render Pro license and a license for the specific AddOn must be purchased and activated on the computer your are using.  Also note that Twilight Render Pro V2.8 or later is required.

Creating Terrain from Scratch

 There are two ways to create terrain, converting an existing geo-Location Snapshot or create one from scratch.  A new terrain (vs. a converted one) will be more detailed and generally smaller by default.  So if you need a small location, for example a small park or development lot, this is a good choice to start with.

There are multiple ways to construct a new terrain but they all start the same:

  1. In SketchUp, open the Extensions menu and choose 'Twilight Render V2', then click on 'Terrain'.
  2. The Terrain Tools editor will open.  You don't have a terrain yet though.
  3. In the Terrain Tools editor, click on the Terrain menu and choose 'New Terrain'.
  4. This will create a new TWR Terrain.  Just like adding a Component to your scene, move your mouse into your scene window and click where you want to place the new terrain.
  5. The terrain is preconfigured with the basic options.  We are going to change them, but this is where we start.

NewTerrain

 We've just created a basic terrain.  As you can see, it is square, smooth, and textured with a placeholder texture.  If you were to turn on hidden lines, you would see that the terrain is a grid of triangles.  The basic features of the terrain are important to understand.

  • The terrain is always a regular grid of triangles.  This means even spacing between all points along the X axis and along the Y axis.
  • Except when converting a geo-Location Snapshot (more below), the maximum number of points along both the X and Y axes is set by the Geometry Size value in the terrain editor.
    • Under the geometry tab, the first number box is the Geometry Size.
    • When creating a Procedural Terrain (below), the grid is square and both X and Y axis have Geometry Size number of vertex points.
    • When creating a Heightmap Terrain (below), the grid maintains the heightmap image aspect ratio, and constrains it to a maximum of Geometry Size number of vertex points.
      • This means that if Geometry Size is 50, and your image is 400x200, your terrain will be 50 x 25 vertices.
    • By default, Geometry Size is set to 50 vertices.  This is a good value for a reasonably sized terrain.  Increasing Geometry Size to 100 quadruples the number of vertices (from 2,500 to 10,000) and further increases may begin to challenge the capabilities of your computer.  As always, higher power computers can handle larger size.
    • By default (except when converting a geo-Location Snapshot), vertices are separated by 2 feet.  This is the only 'fixed' value, and can not be changed.  So a terrain of 50 vertices will be 98 feet long ((50 - 1) * 2).
      • If you need your terrain to be larger or smaller and don't want to change the number of vertices, simply scale the terrain component exactly as you would for any SketchUp component or group!
  • By default, the height of the terrain is equal to the Geometry Size * 2 inches.  So if you have a Geometry Size of 50 vertices, your terrain will be a maximum of 98 ft wide and 100 inches tall.
    • Just as you can scale the terrain in the X and Y axes, you can scale it in height, the Z axis.
    • Your terrain may not reach the maximum height!  If you are importing a heightmap (more below), your terrain will be less than the maximum if the pixels are less than the maximum white value.  Additionally, the procedural terrain you choose may not reach the maximum.

Scale

 

  It's best to consider the Geometry Size setting as a way of controlling the precision of the geometry, how many vertices it contains, and then rely on the Scale tool to size the terrain to your needs.

Heightmap Terrains

 Now that we have the basics down, let's look at the different kinds of new terrains.  The first style is to import a heightmap.  A heightmap is traditionally a gray-scale image (though it doesn't have to be) where black pixels represent the lowest value and white pixels represent the highest value.  An internet search for heightmap images will produce quite a few good results (just watch out for images that are just grayscale; that doesn't mean they are heightmaps).

HMB

 

 To use a heightmap for your terrain, locate the 'Terrain from Heightmap' section on the Geometry page of the terrain editor.  Under that you can specify the path to your heightmap image.  When you have chosen the heightmap you want to use, click the green 'Play' arrow next to the heightmap text box.  After a few seconds, depending on the size of your image and the Geometry Size of your terrain, your image will be converted to terrain.

 Chances are, your heightmap image will be much larger in pixels than your terrain is in vertices.  The image above is about 500 px wide, but I'm not going to create a 500 vertex wide terrain.  Instead, your image will be resized to fit the Geometry Size you have chosen (50 pixels for a Geometry Size of 50 vertices) and the resulting image will be used.  As mentioned above, if your image is not square your terrain will be sized to match the same aspect ratio of the heightmap image.

HeightmapB sm

Procedural Terrains

 The other method of creating new terrains is to use one of the procedural functions.  The terrain toolkit comes with 5 procedural types:

  1. Bumpy - this is a smooth terrain that can be universally used for grassy fields or wooded hills.
  2. Islands - this terrain represents smooth islands rising from a flat ocean.  It is very effective for producing islands but can also be used in any application needing flat areas separated by rounded areas.
  3. Ridges - this produces sharp, ridged terrain similar to sand dunes and desert.
  4. Mountains - this terrain looks like distant mountains and can represent a wide variety of peaks and ridges.
  5. Mounds - this is a very knobby, bumpy terrain that can represent both large scale terrain and small scale surfaces.

ExampleAThumb

Bumpy

ExampleBThumb

Islands

ExampleCThumb

Ridges

 ExampleDThumb

Mountains

 ExampleEThumb

Mounds

 

 It's easy to use the procedural terrains.  Locate the Procedural Terrain section of the Geometry page in the terrain editor.  The first value is a numeric 'seed', kind of like a tv channel.  The same seed will always produce the same terrain for a given type.  You can flip through the channels to find the terrain that you like by changing the seed value and clicking the 'Play' button.  The type of procedural terrain can be chosen from the dropdown list under that, labeled 'Procedural Type'.  As previously mentioned, to regenerate your terrain to reflect any changes you make, click the 'Play' button next to the Procedural Type drop down.

Converting geo-Location Snapshots

 SketchUp has long had the ability to grab a real-world terrain snapshot from Google Maps and place it in your scene.  While it's nice to have some real-world features, the resulting geometry is not easily editable which can limit its usefulness.  Twilight Render Terrain Tools can convert this geometry to a TWR Terrain, on which you can perform the same editing, texturing, etc..

Important Note: Some old versions of SketchUp no longer have access to geo-Location.  At the time of this writing, SketchUp 2013 and earlier could no longer access geo-Location.

 It's very simple to use. 

  1. Add your Location Snapshot using SketchUp's editor.
  2. Toggle Terrain On.  Depending on your version of SketchUp, you can do this from the toolbar or going to File -> Geo-location -> Show Terrain.  If you don't do this your terrain will be flat and uninteresting.
  3. Right click on your terrain and choose Twilight Render V2 -> Convert to TWR Terrain.
  4. The terrain editor will open and you will be prompted to Replace the existing location snapshot.
    1. If you choose 'Yes', to replace the snapshot, it will be deleted and the new terrain inserted in its place.
    2. If you choose 'No', the new terrain will be added but the existing location snapshot will remain unchanged.
  5. Depending on the size of the terrain geometry, it make take a couple of seconds up to a minute for the terrain to be converted.  When it is complete, your new TWR Terrain will be inserted and textured with the original snapshot texture.

 Convert

 That's all it takes!  Now you can use the terrain tools to edit the terrain or create a new custom texture.

 There are some important points to be aware of when converting geo-Location Snapshots to TWR Terrains.

  • A TWR Terrain must use points that are regularly spaced in the X and Y axes.  SketchUp's location snapshots mostly conform to this same principle, but there is one specific, important difference.  SketchUp's snapshot has a border of irregularly spaced geometry around the entire terrain.  This geometry can not be used by TWR Terrain and so it is cut off.  The resulting TWR Terrain is one row/column of geometry smaller around every edge.  In most cases this probably won't be an issue.  If you are needing to line up multiple snapshots, however, you will probably need to accomodate this change.
  • Location snapshots are centered on the origin of the scene.  The converted terrain is also centered, however, in part because of the trimmed geometry, the terrain may not be exactly centered where the original location snapshot was.

TIP: But what if you have a really small terrain with only a few triangles in the grid.  Something like this.

SmallTerrain

There isn't much the TWR Terrain Tools can do with this.  Since it acts on the existing vertices of the terrain, when you don't have many (in this image, after the edges are trimmed, only 6x5), it doesn't do much good.  Luckily, we can prepare this terrain before conversion to make it more usable!

  1. Save your work.  Since we are going to 'tamper' with our terrain, it's better to be safe than sorry.
  2. This must be done before converting to a TWR Terrain.  Also, it helps to have Hidden Geometry turned on so you can see the geometry you are working with.
  3. Right click on your geo-Location Snapshot and choose 'Unlock'.
  4. Double click to open and enter the group.
  5. Select the entire terrain (all faces, all edges).
  6. Right click on the selected terrain and choose Twilight Render V2 -> Faces -> Grid Subdivide.
  7. Using your keyboard, type in 10' (or some distance between lines that works for your terrain).
  8. Right-click and select 'Done'.
  9. Close the group.
  10. Right click on the terrain group and choose Twilight Render V2 -> Convert to TWR Terrain.

That's it.  You might notice that some of your edges are not quite right and you may need to smooth them with the smoothing tool.  But you will find your have a lot more vertices to work with letting your create a lot more detail in your terrain.  Be aware that if you create an excessive amount of vertices you may find the terrain very unweildy and difficult to work with.

ModSmallTerrain

Note also that any values used for creating new terrain (particularly the Geometry Size) are ignored.  Vertex size and spacing is determined from the geo-Location Snapshot geometry.

Editing Existing Terrains

 Once you have created a terrain, it is very easy to return to editing it in the future.  Simply right click on the TWR Terrain component, choose 'Twilight Render V2' -> 'Edit Terrain'.  The terrain editor will open for editing the currently selected terrain.

 

Terrain Editing

 Once you have your terrain created and in place, you may find it exactly what you needed.  On the other hand, you may find you need to edit it with some 'excavations'.  The TWR Terrain editor offers tools to perform those modifications.

 All the tools operate in a 'brush' style.  That means you choose the tool, set the size of the brush (its radius) and how strong of an impact the brush will have on the terrain (its strength).  The strongest effect from the brush will occur in the center and it tapers smoothly out to the edges.  There are currently 3 tools: Raise/Lower, Smooth, and Level.

  • Raise/Lower - Just as the name implies, this tool is used to raise and lower the terrain.  Click and drag to raise, or hold down the shift key while dragging to lower.
  • Smooth - By clicking and dragging with this tool, you can smooth, or average, adjacent terrain to create smoother transitions and slopes.
  • Level - First, hold down shift and click on the terrain at the exact height you want for your level.  Then click and drag to push the surrounding terrain toward that same level.

 As you can see, the tools are very easy to use!  But there is a little bit more to know about them.

There are two editing styles that you can choose from.  The first is called 'deferred editing' and it is the default method.  When you use this method, Twilight Render will create a grid over the top of the terrain.  As you use the brush, the grid will change to reflect the changes to the terrain.  Once you release the mouse button, the changes you made will be committed to the terrain.  This has the lowest CPU usage and is visually the most pleasing.  The grid is drawn in red while the edited area (within the brushes 'radius') shades to blue.

The second is called 'direct editing'.  You can choose this method by selecting it from the terrain editor's Tools menu.  Using this method, the brush directly modifies the terrain geometry.  This generally works well, especially on higher-end computers, but SketchUp has one flaw that can make this method difficult to use: when a tool edits geometry, SketchUp arbitrarily changes the texture mapping on the faces that were changed!  So as you edit, the texture will begin to appear broken and crazy.  The TWR Terrain tools remap the faces as they go but this can be CPU intensive.  Especially as you increase the radius of your tool, you may start to see it acting sluggish.  In that case, deselect 'direct editing' and reselect the tool (clicking on one of the tool buttons is sufficient).

Because of these trade-offs, the TWR Terrain tool gives the user the option to choose whichever method they prefer.

Also note that there are some keystroke shortcuts you can use with the tools.  With the tool active, the right and left arrow keys change the tool strength, while the up and down arrow keys change the radius.

EditTools

 

There is one very important caveat.  Due to the nature of how SketchUp performs hit detection (figuring out where your mouse is over the geometry), scene geometry will interfere.  For instance, a building placed on your landscape will prevent the terrain under it from being affected by the tool.  This is an inconvenience that, unfortunately, is inherent to SketchUp and can't be changed.  There are three ways around this however:

  1. Edit your terrain by itself.  This is the simplest and easiest way.  Just treat the terrain as its own file and complete your edits on it before importing into your main scene.
  2. Place your terrain in a component by itself and then choose View -> Component Edit -> Hide Rest of Model. Then when you enter the component to edit your terrain, the rest of the model is hidden and does not interfere.
  3. Place your terrain on its own layer and hide all the other layers when editing the terrain.

Note that the terrain editing tools are only available when an instance of your currently edited terrain is selected.  Should the terrain become unselected, the tools will not be accessible.

Texturing Terrain

 If you have converted a geo-Location Snapshot, you may want to keep the texture that came with it.  But if you have imported a heightmap or created a terrain from scratch using one of the procedurals (or maybe the quality of your location texture is very poor), the terrain editor provides some great tools for creating your own texture, customized to your terrain.

 Up until now we have focused on the Geometry tab of our terrain editor, but now we are going to switch over to the Texture tab.  Basically, the texture tab is composed of up to 4 "layers" of textures, plus some other features.  We will go through them one by one.

 The first thing you will want to decide is the size of your terrain texture.  At the top of the editor we have the Texture Size value.  This is the width and height of your final texture in pixels.  Note, the texture is always square even if your terrain is not.  The default value is 512 which is a reasonable, if somewhat small value.  If you are going to be viewing or rendering your terrain close up, you probably want to increase this to 1024, 2048 or even more.  You can always change the size later if you decide and regenerate your terrain texture (more on that below).

 Below the Texture Size is our first "layer", the Base Texture.  This is the texture that is applied to the entire terrain by default.  There are several settings that we need to consider for not just the Base Texture, but all our texture layers.

 The first thing to know about the texture layers is they are designed to be repeating.  When you select a texture to use in your terrain, you will need to specify a Tile size.  This is the size of each texture 'tile' as it repeats across the terrain.  For example, if you set your Texture Size to 500, your terrain texture will be 500px wide and 500px high.  By setting your layer's Tile size to 50px, you are making that layer's texture repeat 10 times in width and 10 times in height.

repeating

 Pretty straightforward.  The key is to set the tiling to a value appropriate to your texture.  Trying out different values is the best way to find what looks good.

 But what if you want to apply a texture that doesn't tile?  This could be especially needed if you import a heightmap and want to apply a matching texture.  No problem!  Set the Tile size to the same value used for the Texture Size.  That way there won't be any repeating and the texture will map just right!

 Now that we have set our Base Texture and its Tile size, you should see your 'preview' image at the bottom of the editor update and show an example of your texture.  It won't be very interesting yet, but we are getting there.  Go ahead and click the Play button at the bottom, the one next to the text 'Recreate Texture Map'.  Pretty quickly (if not immediately) you should see your terrain updated with the start of a new texture.

TextureA

 

 A pretty simple texture but we are just getting started.  Where the real texture power comes in is when we add another layer!  Now we need to address the other important feature of layers: along with Tiling, layers transition according to terrain height.  This means we start with the Base Layer, but as we move up in height, we will transition to our second layer, labeled Texture 2 in our editor.

 What is important here is setting where that transition occurs.  Underneath the Base layer textbox is a number value labeled 'Transition'.  This is the percentage of the terrain height at which the transition occurs.  Of course before we can transition to a new texture, we have to add a second layer!  By setting the texture filepath for Texture 2, we are loading a second texture into our layers.  Set the Tile size you want to use and the set the Transition between the Base Texture to 25%.  You will see your preview update.  Then go ahead and click the Play button to recreate your texture map.

 TextureB

 Great!  We clearly see the transition between our base layer and the next, layer 2.

 One important note: the transition (at 25% in our example here) is the percentage of the maximum terrain height.  Your terrain may not reach the maximum height and the transition may occur at what appears to be lower than the set percentage.  You can easily adjust the transition percentage and recreate your texture however.

 So we have a transition, but it is pretty abrupt.  There is a very obvious line across the middle.  This is where the Blur setting comes in.  It's right next to the Transition numeric.  Blur is also in percentage, but in this case it is added on both sides of the transition line (half above, half below) to create a smooth transition.  That might be a bit of a confusing statement, but in practice it is pretty simple.

Let's say our transition is at 25%.  If we set Blur to 5%, then our transition will start at 20% and smoothly blend from one texture to the next, finishing at 30%.  The larger the Blur, the smoother the transition; conversely you can create a sharper transition by using a small Blur.

Blur

 Looks a lot better doesn't it!

 The terrain editor supports up to 4 layers of height textures, with a transition between each layer (so 4 textures, 3 transitions).  Below you can see layer 3 and 4 set at regular intervals with a suitable blur.  One thing to note is that, if you set the transition between the Base and Layer 2 to be 25%, the transition between 2 and 3 should be more than 25%, something like 30, 40, 50%.  The transitions are percentages of the maximum height of the terrain, as we mentioned above.

BlurTexC TextureD

 There is a lot of variety you can accomplish.  If you look at the images at the start of this tutorial, you can see several examples of different texture combinations to produce different looks and results.

 But we can go further.  Another component of terrain, in addition to height, is variation in slope or steepness.  We can add an additional texture that varies by the slope of the terrain.  For the moment, we are going to skip over Slope Bias; we'll get back to it.  For now jump to the Slope Texture.  This is a layer just like the height layers above.  But instead of transitioning based on height it will transition based on the terrain steepness.

 The terrain editor only provides one slope texture.  In general this is all that's really necessary.  You will see, also, that it specifies a Threshold and a Blur number.  This is very similar to the Transition % in the height layers, but instead of acting on percent, it acts on degrees of slope.  Basically, if you set the Threshold to 5 degrees, the Slope Texture will appear where the slope exceeds 5 degrees.  The Blur works the same as it did above in creating a smooth transition between the height textures and the Slope Texture.

 Slope

  An important thing to keep in mind is that the Slope used is the 'unscaled' slope.  If you have used the scale tool to increase the height of your terrain (which you probably will need to do in most cases), remember that the slope as it appears will be more steep than what the terrain editor sees it as.

 There is another way to represent slope that can be used to good effect, and this is the Slope Bias.  This number value is just above the Slope Texture.  Basically, it offsets the height of each point based on the slope.  So as the steepness of the terrain increases, the height will be considered as increasing.  The end result of this is the it looks like the terrain is "sliding down" the steep areas.  For things like snow or rock, this can be very effective.  Typically you will not use both Slope Texture and Slope Bias; one or the other will be appropraite for the scene.  Of course nothing stops you from doing that if you want!

SlopeBias

 In this image, though the effect is a little subtle, you can see how the different layers go up and down with the slope of the terrain, and that this creates a much more convincing lanscape.  Slope Bias is a multiplier, so a value of 1 applies 1x the effect, at 2, 2x etc..

 

And finally, of course, your resulting terrain is fully renderable as part of your scene!

Scene 1

 

Downloading Terrain and Imagery

 In May, 2017, the agreement between Trimble (the owners of SketchUp) and Google (the former owners) regarding providing terrain and satellite imagery for real-world terrains expired.  While SketchUp Pro users are able to continue to access terrain and imagery, SketchUp Make users are not.  Not every one uses real-world imagery, but without question it is a sorely missed feature for many.  As we looked at our newly available Terrain Tools AddOn (which was released with V2.8 just a month prior), we decided we could incorporate a terrain and imagery download feature, assuming there were public sources of data available.

 After quite a lot of investigation, research, and work, we have compiled these publicly available sources of terrain into a new feature set for Terrain Tools!  Not only can you access the satellite imagery, but you can also get global terrain elevations from NASA and ESA sources!  This extension to the Terrain Tools tutorial will show you how to use the features.

While it should be obvious, it is worth noting that this feature requires an active internet connection.  All mapping data comes from third party servers.  If you don't have a reliable internet connection or you are behind a firewall, you may not be able to download imagery.

WMS vs WMTS

wmsmenu

 In the world of geo-location and mapping, maps are available in two major ways, WMS and WMTS.  The major difference between the two is the 'T', which stands for Tile or Tiling.  If you have ever used a website map and seen parts of the map popup in blocks, these are the tiles.  Google mapping is tile based, as is Bing and similar services (though they use there own mechanism which is similar to, but not the same as, WMTS).  Both features have pros and cons, but we decided to provide access to both.

You access the new WMTS and WMS features from the 'Terrain' menu of the Terrain Tools editor (which can be launched from Extensions -> Twilight Render V2 -> Terrain).

 

So aside from the technical differences, what are the practical differences and why should you choose one or the other?

 We'll cut right to the chase for those of you who don't want to spend the time reading tutorials and want to jump right into using it: use WMTS!

 WMTS uses premade tiles that are stored on remote servers.  When you need to download a map of the area, all the tiles you need are downloaded and assembled, and it's fast!  That's why Google and all the others use tiles, speed.  WMS, on the other hand, has to be created for the exact boundary that you request.  Depending on the server, this could be less than a second, or more than 30!  Ironically, WMS is much, much easier to use (from a programmer / application standpoint); it's just not very fast.

 So, knowing that, you may be asking why we bothered with WMS at all.  Chances are, you aren't going to need to use it.  However, there are important uses for it that we didn't want to neglect.  As we will discuss later, there is an option for you to connect to a custom server, maybe your own or one you pay to have access to; as it turns out, most of those servers run WMS, not WMTS.  For similar reasons, there are many (many, many) servers out there that provide very specific, unique mapping images like climate and weather, contour lines, points of interest, etc. and they pretty much all run WMS.  Now you know why both options are available.  The best news is that using one or the other works in exactly the same way.

wmsdialog

 

Navigation

 When you first launch the WMTS / WMS editor, you will see a satellite image and a small set of controls.  If you choose the WMS editor, it may take a bit longer for the satellite imagery to appear.

 Navigating the editor is very simple:

Left-click, hold, and drag to move the map image up and down, left and right.

Scroll wheel in and out to zoom in and out.  The red line on the right of the image indicates how far zoomed you are toward the minimum or maximum.

Control + Left-click, hold and drag to create a selection box (optional, otherwise the entire view will be selected).

That's it!  When you find the view you want, click OK to create the terrain centered in your SketchUp view.  To exit without creating terrain, click Cancel.

There are a few other features that are worth mentioning.

Geometry Size - this is the maximum number of vertices in the X and Y direction that will be used to create the terrain.  This is exactly the same as the Geometry Size used elsewhere in the terrain tools.  50 is a good number, 100 is more precise for higher end machines, and you should be very careful about going above 200 unless you really have a high end computer.

Latitude, Longitude - if you know the latitude and longitude of your point of interest, you can enter it into the box and click 'Go To'.  Note, it is critically important that you enter it exactly as Latitude, Longitude (including the comma!) and that you use the common west-is-negative, south-is-negative notation.  What is great about this is that you can use Google Maps to help you out.  In the image below, I used Google to find the European Space Agency in England, and after clicking on the map was able to see and copy the coordinates for it.  Pasting them into the WMTS editor, you can create a terrain of the exact location.

esamap

Reset - sometimes you get lost.  Reset will take your view back to the starting point, which happens to be the SketchUp offices in Boulder, Colorado in the United States.

Image Source

An important aspect of WMS / WMTS online images that you should really understand is that servers rarely provide imagery for the entire world.  In some cases, your image will have a message written across it like "No Data for this Area" or something like that.  In most cases, it will just be white or blank.  So it is important to choose the appropriate image source for your area (this is especially true for WMS). We have categorized them as shown below.

World - as expected, this gives you imagery for the whole world.  Often, however, your resolution (how far you can zoom in and get a clear image) is limited.  For much of Africa and Asia, this may be the only source of imagery.

USA National Map - this provides imagery for the contiguous United States.  In some heavily populated areas, you may even get less-than-1-foot resolution, which is very impressive.

Europe - this provides imagery for most of the European continent and outlying regions.

Open Street Map - this provides the familiar OSM streetmap images with cities, streets, points of interest, etc. labeled.

osmmap

 

Using the Custom Image Source

The Custom image source allows you to enter in your own server to connect to.  When you switch to 'Custom', the controls below it will be available, the server you want to connect to and options available for it.

customserver

 

 If you have entered custom servers before, the auto-complete feature will present you with options to help you return to commonly visited servers.  When you have the server entered, click on the magnifying glass.  This will connect to the server and retrieve server information.  Note: If you have entered the URL incorrectly, or the server is not responding correctly, you will see error messages.

 Once you have successfully contacted the server, you will need to choose the 'Layer' to display.  Most servers provide multiple layers corresponding to different map information; some only provide one.  Click on the Layers button to open a menu with the available layers, and click one to choose it.  It's important to note that, even at this stage, servers may encounter errors; typcially those errors will be displayed but sometimes the result is simply no image.

 If you have an inhouse server or you have purchased access to a commercial mapping server, you will want to enter your URL here under Custom.  If your server provider has given you a URL (and they usually will have one including all the login information you need), try entering in directly as given.  If you encounter problems, please contact us on our user forum!  Just make sure you know if you are using WMS or WMTS!

Offline Servers

Sometimes servers are offline.  And this includes government servers like the USGS department!  There is nothing we at Twilight Render can do about it, but usually it is temporary and only lasts at most a day.  If you encounter problems though, let us know on our user forum and we will see if there is anything we can do.

Data Disclaimer

 Mapping data is a hot topic, and while there is a push for more open sources, the industry is still controlled by large corporations.  We have worked hard to give you access to public, freely available sources of imagery.  However, many sources still expect attribution or have limits on usage.  It is the responsibility of the user to adhere to whatever terms are imposed.  We provide an attribution link for the current image source at the bottom of the editor image.  Feel free to contact us on our user forum with any questions.  

 For legal purposes, please be aware that Twilight Render LLC has no relationship with any data source and makes no warranty of the accuracy or usability of any of the data you may encounter.  We provide a tool to access the data but how you use that tool is up to you.

 

 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

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